Ian Somerhalder: The Voice Of Coral Reef

For fans of Warner Brother’s hit supernatural TV drama “The Vampire Diaries,” actor,  Ian Somerhalder will forever be likened to Damon Salvatore — the blood-thirsty, yet charming vampire. While Ian’s charisma may be equally as palpable as his persona onscreen, fortunately in real life he is much more interested in preserving life than taking it.

As the Co-Founder and President of the Ian Somerhalder Foundation (ISF), Ian has spent much of the last four years fighting for the future of our planet. Assembling a team of passionate activists across the globe, this Hollywood heartthrob has gained the admiration of the entertainment industry and the environmental community alike. In recognition of his efforts, Ian has assembled a lofty repertoire of accolades including an ambassadorship for the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), the International Green Awards title of “Most Responsible Celebrity,” as well as the honour of being named one of the “Visionaries” by Condé Nast Traveler in 2013.

Like many passions, Ian’s love for the great outdoors began early in life. Born and raised in Covington, Louisiana, Ian spent much of his childhood studying and interacting with his natural environment. Though he gained an appreciation for nature at an early age, it wasn’t until a disaster hit his home years later that his voice became a catalyst for change.

In 2010, the BP Oil Spill devastated the Gulf Coast, resulting in catastrophic damage to the water and wildlife in the area. Upon hearing the news, Ian hurried home to help; a decision that would ultimately ignite his ecological devotion. “Watching BP’s oil destroy my home and one of the most beautiful bodies of water on the planet, I realized that feeling of helplessness should not go unnoticed — and that I, myself, nor my family, nor my children, nor anyone on this planet should ever feel that helpless again” Ian explains. Encouraging public involvement thorough interviews, social media and CNN’s Disaster in the Gulf telethon, Ian was able to garner overwhelming support for the relief effort.

It was this experience, that led Ian to launch his non-profit organization — ISF — on December 8th, 2010.  Created with the mission to empower, educate and collaborate with people and projects to help the planet and all of its creatures, ISF focuses specifically on habitat protection, species conservation and clean energy initiatives. In particular, ISF concentrates on the interconnectivity of all living things, stressing that our mutual survival depends upon an integrated approach to solving issues of global sustainability.

Recognizing that today’s youth are one of the most powerful assets on the planet, ISF works to incorporate them as the beneficiaries of their projects. One of the ways they are able to reach this audience is by leveraging Ian’s extraordinary social media presence. Reaching out to his 17 million plus social connections, Ian and ISF motivate young people to get involved. In fact, today ISF has more than 800 Community Groups worldwide and over 200 ISF Kids armies achieving change collaboratively.

Ian’s commitment to the earth continues with his partnership with Conservation International (CI), one of the world’s largest and most influential environmental organizations. In honour of 2014 World Oceans Day, Ian did a PR event with CI’s Chief Scientist, Greg Stone at Aquarius — an underwater laboratory 63 feet below the ocean in the Florida Keys. Ian also joined CI’s team as a climate change correspondent in the 2014 Emmy Award winning documentary series, Years of Living Dangerously.  As a huge fan of the non-profit’s chairman, CEO, and co-founder, Peter Seligmann, Ian was happy to lend his voice for their new social media campaign, “Nature Is Speaking.”  Working along A-list celebrities like Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey and Harrison Ford, a series of short films have been created to give environmentalism a voice.  Quite fittingly, Ian was chosen to represent the voice of the Coral Reef, conveying why this natural treasure is important for our survival. “It’s impossible to imagine our planet without coral. Think about this: if water is the blood of our planet flowing through veinous rivers, streams and into our oceans…what does that make coral? Our heart. We simply cannot survive without our heart, therefore it’s mandatory we heal and protect our coral reefs NOW. For this very important reason, I lent my voice as “Coral Reef” to Conservation International’s phenomenal campaign Nature Is Speaking. Together, we can bring our planet’s heartbeat back” Ian shares passionately.

Growing for almost 250 million years coral is one of the largest living things on the planet. Coral reefs are home to more than 1 million diverse aquatic species, including thousands of fish species. In fact, a quarter of all marine life depends on coral. In correlation to humans, not only do we depend on the coral reef as a major source of food, but it also is a fortress that protects us against tsunamis and storms, and is responsible for massive economic benefits. Unfortunately, due to human interference 19% of the world’s reefs are effectively lost.

However you can help. Be part of the conversation and unlock $1 million for conservation by using the #NatureIsSpeaking hashtag. Watch the film and learn more at natureisspeaking.org.